Growing Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)

, written by gb flag

Cooking with Jerusalem artichokes

There are so many good things about Jerusalem artichokes that in some ways it's surprising they're not grown more. They're tasty, available all winter, exceptionally easy to grow, completely undemanding, very low-maintenance and ideal for beginners. They are also low in calories. There's just one drawback, which I'll come to later.

The Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) is a perennial sunflower native to North America. It produces knobbly, white-fleshed (or, less commonly, red-fleshed) tubers that can be eaten raw or cooked. Better suited to cooler climates, they will grow in places like Florida, though your harvest is likely to be smaller.

It's often sold unnamed, and you could just buy some from your local grocery to plant out, but named varieties are becoming more common. In the States, French Mammoth White offers large yields. In the UK, Fuseau is popular because it's smoother-skinned than the others (in the US Golden Nugget and American are also smoother). It's also worth seeking out Dwarf Sunray. Being a bit more compact, with more flowers, it's better suited in the flower bed and its tubers don't require peeling.

Jerusalem artichoke flowers

Planting Jerusalem Artichokes

The tubers grow in just about any soil. This means that they're often relegated to a difficult area of the garden (ground that's waterlogged for extended periods is the only real no-no). That said, they will, like all vegetables, benefit from decent conditions. Improving poor soil before planting encourages the growth of larger tubers, which will be easier to cook later on. They prefer alkaline conditions, so add lime to raise the pH to around 6.5 if your soil is very acidic.

The sturdy, hollow stems grow tall enough to double as a living screen or windbreak, but unless you specifically want them for this purpose, don't plant too many. Five is probably ample. Remember, one tuber can produce twenty!

Plant tubers 4-6 inches (10-15 cms) deep, 12-18 inches (30-45 cms) apart. If they are already sprouting, make sure the shoots are pointing upwards, and be gentle, as they break off quite easily. If you don't have many tubers, you can cut them into pieces (don't let these dry out), ensuring that each piece has a bud on it, and plant those.

Caring for Jerusalem Artichokes

General advice is to keep them watered and earth up the stalks as they grow. There's no doubt you'll get a larger harvest, with larger tubers if you do. However, I'll admit that I neglect mine shamefully, even in dry spells, and never earth up, yet I still have more than I ever need.

Because they grow so tall (easily reaching ten feet or more), the plants can suffer wind-rock, or overshadow other crops. If this is likely to happen, cut stalks down to around 4 feet (120 cms) high in mid-summer. This will make them bush out and creates more compact plants. It also discourages flowering (which begins in autumn) and, instead, encourages them to put their energy into growing bigger tubers.

Their flowers provide some late nourishment for insects at a time when many flowers have long gone, though, so rather than cutting them back, you could corral them with deeply set canes and wires, so that they don't wave around over the bed.

Harvesting Jerusalem Artichokes

Start harvesting after the first frost, when the plants begin to die back (around late autumn—November in the northern hemisphere). If you're somewhere warmer then leave harvest until mid-winter.

Jerusalem Artichokes aren't easy to store well but one of their advantages is that they're quite happy left in the ground until you need them. If your ground tends to freeze, mulch well to ensure that you can extend the harvest period. If you do need to store them, ensure you put them somewhere very cool and with high humidity to help prevent them from shrivelling.

Harvesting Jerusalem artichoke tubers

Replanting for the following harvest

It's not necessary to dig them all up if you've created a permanent bed for them, but they'll become congested in a couple of years if you don't. So, in early spring, dig over the bed, removing all you can find and replant (in the same place if you wish) the smoothest, biggest ones you come across. This helps ensure less knobbly artichokes in future years.

If you do get heartily sick of them, then covering the area with weed control fabric for a couple of years should see them off.

Eating Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes contain inulin, a carbohydrate that feeds your gut bacteria. It's part of the reason why this vegetable is low in calories. The less desirable side effect to this is that it also causes wind.

I love them but can't eat too many at once. It's said that if you eat them everyday, the explosive effect wears off, but I've never actually come across anyone who's tried this and haven't had the courage to do it myself.

They do, however, make a delicious soup, either by themselves or in combination with carrots, sweet potatoes or even peppers. (To save my insides, I just make sure that they make up no more than 50% of the ingredients.)

The knobbliness of Jerusalem artichokes means that it's best to find ways to cook them that don't require careful peeling. Instead you can roast them in their skins or boil them for around twenty minutes until tender and then peel them.

They can also be eaten raw, grated into salads, when they're a bit like water-chestnut, but the flesh browns easily and, after peeling, tubers should be sprinkled with lemon juice or put into acidulated water until needed, to keep their whiteness.

By Helen Gazeley

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Show Comments


"I love, love, love my Jerusalem artichokes. I wonder what kind of crop i will have this year? The drought and extreme heat kept mine from blooming this year. Since the cold makes them sweeter i am waiting to dig any up for a couple more weeks. We like them mashed like potatoes. "
Melanie Holtzclaw on Monday 26 November 2012
"Another question I have is: Is it the good gut bacteria that is being fed by the inulin? "
Melanie Holtzclaw on Tuesday 27 November 2012
"Gut bacteria isn't exactly my area of expertise, Melanie, but here's an extract that suggests it is."
Helen Gazeley on Tuesday 27 November 2012
"I did a little homework of my own and concluded it is probably feeding the good bacteria. My mom is working on rebuilding hers, so she will be getting a gift of some sunchokes soon. We had a nice hard freeze last night so i am looking forward to the sweeter taste the cold gives them. "
Melanie on Tuesday 27 November 2012
"A word of caution re: Jerusalem Artichokes. They are hard to erradicate from a spot they like to grow. I grew a row one year and although I loved to eat a few I had no use for the quantity that grew. I made the mistake of tilling the patch and for many years after I had hundreds of little Jerusalem artichokes all through the garden. Took me many years to get themn uder control. I do love a feed of them once a year though. "
Bill on Wednesday 2 January 2013
"I was going to plant Jerusalem Artichokes in my backyard garden. Then, I've read that it attracts mice (because it is their favorite food in winter and early spring). Is anyone had a problem with mice?"
Olena on Tuesday 5 March 2013
"Never had any problem with mice at all. "
Bill in Ontario Canada on Wednesday 6 March 2013
"I have a problem with voles eating them, but had enough for me!"
Anita P on Monday 6 May 2013
"Run off the voles with castor plants. They hate them!"
Robin on Tuesday 1 October 2013
"I planted them in my window box and they grew very well flowers! Any suggestions?"
David on Saturday 9 November 2013
"David, you won't always get flowers, especially if they can't grow to their full height, which I'm fairly sure they can't in your window boxes. "
Helen Gazeley on Monday 11 November 2013
"Bumper crop in my raised bed this year. So far they are soft, almost like pithy in the center. I've been growing them for years and I never figured out what causes that. I only like them hard and crunchy like water chestnuts. Got any ideas? "
Doris Smith on Sunday 15 December 2013
"That doesn't sound good. Can't help you though as mine have always been firm."
Bill in Ontario Canada on Sunday 15 December 2013
"@Helen Thanks for your comments. However, being that they are related to sunflowers, I find the same seeds of sunflowers are gigantic in the garden and dwarfed in the flower box. In both cases the make flowers, just bigger or smaller. So, I am not sure the limited soil is the problem. As a follow-up, I dug up a few of the boxes...and found plenty of nice tubers! So the plants are happy, just not flowering. "
David on Monday 16 December 2013
"Thanks for the great article! This is the first time I have grown them and I really look forward to both the flowers and the tubers. When I lived in California I used to find Jerusalem Artichokes in the market once in a while. They were delicious. I love the idea that the flowers are good for bees (I read that elsewhere) and for other insects, which in turn must be good for bats and birds."
Caroni Lombard on Wednesday 7 May 2014
"Sigh - I am not a gardener. I can't even keep a houseplant alive. Too much water or not enough water or… anyway, I digress. My father planted some Jerusalem Artichokes for me in his garden and they are growing well. Planted them about a month or so ago and now it's mid-June and he wants to know when we should start harvesting them. I look at him blankly. I have no idea! Soooo, I Google it! And this was the top site. I read the article, and I still have no idea! Now, I mean no offense. I am sure the article is quite clear and I did learn a lot. It's just that I don't know anything about gardening so some things I just don't understand. :( So here are my questions - you said to "earth up the stalks as they grow". What does that mean? And you said, "Start harvesting after the first frost". Does that mean I just leave them in the ground all summer long? Sorry for my ignorance. Can you help? "
Laura on Wednesday 18 June 2014
"Laura - generally Jerusalem artichokes are considered an autumn/winter crop, so you don't start harvesting them until the weather has turned colder, usually after a frost. So yes, leave them in the ground over summer! "Earthing up" the stalks means pushing soil around the base of the plants to cover the lower part of the stem and the ground around them. You do this with potatoes to prevent the tubers being exposed to light and turning green. Personally I've never bothered doing so with Jerusalem Artichokes as exposure to light doesn't, as far as I'm aware, create toxins in the same way it does with potatoes. But I suppose it might be a good idea to keep the tubers well buried to avoid them being eaten by mice etc!"
Saskia on Thursday 7 August 2014
"I bought some in a supermarket last autumn and planted a few of them in a shallow raised bed. They are now at least 12 foot. Amazing, but I was wondering how come, seeing that it is now late August, they had not flowered yet. (Was beginning to wonder if they might be biennials.) Now I know why! Thanks for a super informative and straightforward article"
Shirley - UK on Tuesday 26 August 2014
"Just this morning I harvested mine. They were beginning to flower and I couldn't wait any longer. I had six plants and lots of small ones from those left in the ground last year. I have half a bushel and some are huge. Lots and lots of water this year."
Betty J on Tuesday 7 October 2014
" I bought about a pound of them for dinner about 10 years ago and planted a few of the smaller ones in a weed-patch up by the road, just for the fun of it. It's lousy soil, mostly clay and gravel. Nothing grows there except crabgrass, thistles and wild raspberries. To my surprise the Jerusalem artichokes loved it and at about 10 feet tall have no trouble competing with the weeds. Now, 10 years later, sometimes they bloom, sometimes they don't, but they ALWAYS produce. Every Fall, after the frosts or freeze kill or turn the leaves yellow, I dig up 5 or 6 of the largest plants and leave the rest go. No fertilizer, no mulch, no bug spray, no care at all. They just do "their thing" and I do mine."
Oluncledave on Friday 31 October 2014
"I have had my plants in the ground for 3 years and never once saw any bloom - although they did produce nicely. What can I do to have them bloom?"
katherine on Wednesday 28 January 2015
"Thanks for the comment "...It's lousy soil, mostly clay and gravel..." I have been looking for just that info - what kind of soil needed. I have a couple of wild areas on the edge of civilization where I want to stick some, but one of them is sandy clay landfill brought in on trucks years ago, the other is not much better. You have given me the encouragement I need to proceed. They should provide food for birds and brighten the area at the same time. "
Rusty Brown on Friday 20 March 2015
"I have a patch, but haven't really found a use for them - since the gassiness is a deal-breaker for my wife and really I'm no fan myself. But once the snow cleared and the ground thawed I dug up 10-12 pounds of them - still leaving plenty there to grow this summer. So my plan is to pickle them. I've got about a third of them in a crock doing lacto-fermentation and the rest I'm going to pickle with vinegar - following a couple of different recipes. Since I like pickles, but have failed at cucumbers every year, I'm really hoping the pickling experiment works!"
Anubis Bard on Sunday 12 April 2015
"so you can eat those left in the ground over winter??? why pickle,,why not eat cooke?"
ml on Sunday 26 April 2015
" can i grow Jerusalem artichokes in a tub?"
yvonne moram on Friday 22 May 2015
"Hi Yvonne. You can grow Jerusalem artichokes in a tub - but it would need to be a big one - at least 45cm (1.5ft) deep and a similar width. It's easier to grow them in the ground if you can. If you do grow in pots, make sure they are out of the wind as they will grow very tall and could, in theory, blow over in strong gusts. Water well in dry weather."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 25 May 2015
"So I don't know anything about artichokes. I bought a couple to plant. I still don't understand, where is the edible part, is it on the stalk above ground or below ground?"
John on Wednesday 27 May 2015
"Hi John. It's the tubers - the swollen roots - below ground that are the edible part."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 27 May 2015
"can I harvest does a shirt slim artichokes all summer if I am interested in doing it earlier. I have so many plans it seems a waste to wait until fall."
connie on Wednesday 27 May 2015
"It turns out that sunchokes are really good pickled. If you are interested, I wrote up the outcome of my experiment with pickling sunchokes at "
Anubis Bard on Wednesday 27 May 2015
"You won't believe this! My sister gave me a scarlet runner bean plant. I read on the web that some people use Jerusalem artichokes as a trellis for scarlet runner beans. So, I Google "Jerusalem artichoke" to see what they look like, and lo and behold, I have a huge patch of them! My house goes back to 1832, so someone must have planted them. Each year the patch gets bigger. Now I can't wait until after the first frost to dig up some tubers and try them! "
Susan on Monday 1 June 2015
"Hi Connie. It's best to wait until the tubers have properly swollen - which will be in the fall/autumn. Otherwise there won't be much to harvest at all, if anything."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 1 June 2015
"Hi Susan. That's a fantastic discovery. Enjoy the tubers!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 1 June 2015
"When some one searches for his essential thing, therefore he/she needs to be available that in detail, thus that thing is maintained over here."
Baehr on Friday 19 June 2015
"I have Jerusalem artichokes in my preschool playground. It was a very hot summer so they didn't grow very tall. My question is do I cut down the plant that is out of the ground each year or do I leave it in the ground to continue growing. We have 2 to 3 feet of snow here."
Heather S on Saturday 7 November 2015
"Hi Heather. You can leave the tubers in the ground but the plants might become congested with time. Dig them up in the spring once the weather has started to warm, then replant some of the tubers to grow again for the coming growing season.You can cut the stems down to the ground once the plants die back later on in the fall/autumn."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 9 November 2015
"thank you your comment was very helpful. I will do it!"
Heather S on Monday 9 November 2015
"My soil is very waterlogged now so I harvested all 4 plants. A good crop - but a)!would they have rotted had I left some? b) anyone discovered a way of storing them over the winter months, or do I make gallons of soup and freeze it? Thanks"
David B on Saturday 14 November 2015
"Hi David. The tubers may well have rotted in continuously saturated soil, so you did well to lift them up. Soup is an excellent way of storing this very flavoursome vegetable. They will also keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, or store them in paper bags stored in a cool place such as a garage or basement where they may well keep for a while longer still."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 16 November 2015
"Thanks Ben Most helpful !! Their lifespan out of soil isn't mentioned anywhere I've searched, so your advice on storing - and how long they might last - is exactly what I wanted to know. "
David B on Monday 16 November 2015
"A quick and tasty way to cook chotes: Wash and brush the skins clean. Cook in water with lemon juice in it until just slightly cooked but firm. The lemon juice blanches them. Slice, then simmer in chicken stock until they are a texture you like. Salt and pepper to taste. They are delicious. Some parts of the chotes will always be softer or crunchier but that is part of the appeal. A note of warning... these things can cause serious gas (flatus). In fact I blame them for a hernia I developed many years ago however that hasn't stopped me from eating them. They taste too good. "
Bill on Monday 16 November 2015
"I haven't harvested any in years. Just planted again this year. But I read in a couple of other articles, that if you wait until after the first killing frost to harvest them, they take on a nutty flavor. I also read that they could be used as a trellis for cucumbers. So I'm going to plant a few pickling cukes near some of them, and give that a try."
J D Provence on Friday 1 April 2016
"Let us know how you get on with the cukes growing against them. Good luck!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 4 April 2016
"I wonder if you need to ferment mashed jeruselem artichoke the same way the hawaiians fermented taro root into poi. Probably would make them easier to digest that way."
Lisa on Monday 18 April 2016
"Hi Lisa. That sounds like an interesting idea. It could well help with the wind problem."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 18 April 2016
"It's a sad world where a bit of farting puts someone off eating a delicious, nutritious food."
Josh on Monday 2 May 2016
" I've been growing them for over 10 years now and always end up with too many to consume. They keep well for a month or two in the fridge but then start to shrivel, mold, get soft, loose flavor. Now when I harvest (after the plant has died back due to the first hard freeze and they are at maximum flavor) I put some in the fridge but cut the rest into (about) one inch chunks, freeze them on a plastic-lined cookie sheet overnight, transfer them into one-gallon freezer bags the next day and store them in my large freezer for whenever I want them during the following winter, spring, summer and fall. "
Oluncledave on Tuesday 10 May 2016
" As to the "flatulence" (farting); Well, that's just a "common sense" issue. Don't eat them for breakfast or lunch (on days when you have to go to work or be in the public). Don't eat them in the evening when anticipating being at a friends house, at a party, at the opera or such. Other than that "have at it". They are way too delectable of a veggie and epicurean treat to deprive your palate of under "all" circumstances."
Oluncledave on Tuesday 10 May 2016
"Hi Oluncledave. Thanks for your tips - that's a great help. As you say, they are a far too delectable vegetable to ignore!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 16 May 2016
"I have grown them for 4 years now, and they really do thrive on neglect. My only problem with them is voles. They eat about 2/3rds of my crop. It gets worse every year. Nothing helps. Thankfully, they produce so many, I still get tons of them. I haven't had a problem with them taking over, for some reason, I'm able to dig every one of them up cause they are all attached to each other. I have to plant some back to get them to come back. Great vegetable. I love them. I also plant them against the east side of my house to save money on AC. They shade that side of my house completely and grow 15-18 feet tall every year. Save money on food, save money on Electricity. Double savings."
Daniel Bannister on Sunday 12 June 2016
"Hi Dan; I am just (after 12 years) starting to have a problem with Voles myself. Once the Voles have found your patch they will not relent and even train their young to rely on it for sustenance. This year I bought a packet of Castor Bean seeds and planted them on the periphery of my patch. They look nice, kind of "exotic" actually. The root system of the Castor Bean is extensive and toxic. This method has completely stopped all Moles from entering my regular garden space and my hope is that it will work equally well on Voles in the Jerusalem Artichoke patch. However, NEVER eat the bean-seed and keep curious children from playing with them as they are deadly. "
Oluncledave on Sunday 12 June 2016
"Hi, I recently purchased a sunchoke plant, and I plan to grow it indoors, how much light do sunchokes need, and how often should I water it! Thanks so much! -Angelina"
Angelina on Monday 27 June 2016
"Hi Angelina. I've not heard of sunchokes being grown indoors. The problem is they are highly unlikely to get enough light - and they grow very tall so would likely dominate any room they were in! They prefer a sunny position outdoors if you're able to provide one."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 6 July 2016
"I've had JAs growing for two years, would tubers that old still be good to eat? "
Allen Price on Tuesday 8 November 2016
"Hi Allen. No, they wouldn't be too old, as new tubers are always being formed/growing, so they should be as good as first-year tubers. When you grow JAs from year to year, lifting them all up and replanting, there will always be some tubers that are inevitably left behind and these would still be good to harvest the following year also."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 8 November 2016
"I have just had my first harvest of Artichokes and made article and carrot soup ...great but have lifted all tubers....when do I plant the dozen or so that I kept and which way do I put them in "
David on Monday 21 November 2016
"Hi David. I'd replant them as soon as you can, so that they don't dry out. If winters are cold where you are, then top up with a mulch on the soil surface to keep them from freezing solid repeatedly. Plant them so that any shoots are facing upwards. You may also see fragments of last season's roots, which would need to point down."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 21 November 2016
"I was wondering if they are a good food for people with diabetes? My Mom and daughter both take four insulin shots a day. I know they produce their own insulin so not sure whether to recommend them or not. Thank you so so much for this article. I have been growing Jerusalem Artichokes for about 7 years and I LOVE them and I give away as many as people want every fall. I have never done anything with them except harvest and eat them. I am digging a BUNCH of them today to take to the Amish community so they can share in them. But one family the Mom and Dad both have Diabetes so not sure what to tell them. Thank you for an AMAZING article. This is the best one I have ever read. I am hoping you will e-mail me the answer. Thank you again "
Pamela on Sunday 9 April 2017
"Hi Pamela. Wow - sounds like you do really well with them! Unfortunately I can't give you a conclusive answer about whether or not they're good for people with diabetes. I hadn't considered this. Natural plant remedies are always great, but I'd be nervous about recommending something in place of prescribed insulin. Great to share the love with your artichokes though."
Ben Vanheems on Sunday 9 April 2017
"I bought some JA tubers for planting this past spring but some how they were overlooked and never were planted. Can I plant them now (July in SW Ohio) or should we wait until fall."
Jan on Tuesday 25 July 2017
"Hi Jan. The worry is that the tubers may have completely dried out and potentially become lifeless in this time. I would get them into the ground as soon as possible. Make sure you keep the ground moist to help them establish. They'll only have a very short season of growth this year, but I think it's probably best to get them in sooner rather than later."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 31 July 2017
"I found this bit of information to answer someone's question here about mushy middles of his tubers every year. Sclerotina may be the culprit. Sclerotina- a fungal disease that causes a mushy, rotting stem base and white mold on the outside. Remove affected plants right away – you will have to eradicate the whole patch, since the disease stays in the soil for long periods."
Robynn B on Friday 13 October 2017
"The picture at the top of this page needs to be changed to a Jerusalem Artichoke. The one there, as of this time I'm writing, is a turmeric root. Similar but no prize. "
Bill on Saturday 14 October 2017
"Well spotted Bill - thanks for pointing that out. We've changed the picture now."
GrowVeg on Saturday 14 October 2017
"I’m just wondering if Pamela misread inulin as insulin, hence the question about diabetes?"
HJ on Thursday 4 January 2018
"Hi HJ. Yes - I think you may be right on that one. "
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 4 January 2018
"For diabetics; the inulin isn't digested until it gets to the large gut where bacteria break it down, and it has little impact on blood sugar. If you cook the 'chokes for hours/days, the inulin breaks down into fructose which is still better for diabetics than potato starch. The Native Americans would build a pit fire, get it good and hot, cover with dirt then layer on the chokes and cover with more dirt and let it heat for one or two days before uncovering and feasting. Long term cooking like this, or left in the ground all winter long allows much of the inulin to convert to fructose. Inulin does feed beneficial gut flora, which can help some people who have unbalanced gut flora. When the good guys are healthy, they out compete the bad guys. SIBO is Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth. A good term to look up. SIBO can cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Leaky Gut Syndrome and a few more problems. Regular ingestion of inulin helps balance out the good and bad bacteria and in some cases can cure IBS and Leaky Gut if they're caused by inflammation from overgrowth or bad bacteria. Fartichokes loose their gaseousness after the bacteria balance out, but that takes a regular diet of them, or powdered inulin. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, roasted, pickled, fermented, dehydrated and ground into flour, canned like potatoes or kept buried under mulch outside over winter where you can dig in and grab a helping when needed. The flour makes a good thickener and can be used like other non-wheat flours. For more on the health benefits look up another term; Nemechek Protocol. That might just blow your socks off! I grow three varieties. One white knobby tuber that grows a top about 5' tall. One purple knobby variety that grows a top about 6' tall and a white carrot shaped tuber that grows a top around 12' tall. This fall is the first I've tried making wine out of the flowers. It worked for two full months before I could bottle it. It's aging now. I'll find out if it's drinkable this summer."
Blaine on Sunday 18 February 2018
"Hi Blaine. Thanks so much for your thorough explanation - that's very much appreciated. Sounds like you're an artichoke fan - great to have three varieties on the go! Good luck with your wine, hope it's a success."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 19 February 2018
"I've grown sunchokes for several years now. When conditions permit in winter, I dig up an area of them, completely turning the soil to get them all, rinse extensively, scrub-brush them, pare out any borer tunnels or stem-end discoloration, soak them for a minute in strong citric acid (pelleted material available at drugstores or supermarkets - canning supplies) solution, drain and store refrigerated in zip-bags. Good for several weeks -- the acid deters bacterial and fungal attack. Then pressure-cook to desired endpoint (if tossing with other ingredients, leave firmer). Unusual cooking behavior in that the tuber centers soften first."
Stanton de Riel on Wednesday 7 March 2018
"Thanks for the comprehensive guide to their preparation Stanton - that's really helpful, and a great idea for extending the useful life of the harvested tubers."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 8 March 2018
"Planted some artichokes that were given to me last year and thought they had rotted away, but this last spring up they came and grew and grew and grew. Much pleasure watching them. I am just waiting for the leaves to wilt and die and the colder weather to come and then I will harvest and eat. I enjoy them but first time to grow. Will keep growing them in the end of our raised bed. We have raised beds as my son is blind and these beds make gardening easier for him."
Gaynor Edgar on Monday 26 March 2018
"I hope you have a bumper crop of artichokes - enjoy!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 26 March 2018
"Hello, Can you divide Jerusalem Artichoke plants during midsummer, to increase yield? I'm thinking of trying to spread them to produce more. Can that be done at the end of July, in time for the harvest?"
Luke on Monday 23 July 2018
"Not really Luke. It's best to wait until the autumn to divide Jerusalem artichokes. Wait until the foliage has died back then cut back all the old growth. Then lift up the crown and divide for replanting. If you divide now you will stress plants out, as it's the middle of the growing season. Best to wait till plants are dormant. Hope this helps."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 23 July 2018
"I just found a health food store that sold Jeruselum Artichokes in Montana. What I ponder with freezing snows likely arriving in Oct, can I plant them now, if not how do I keep them "happy campers" til Spring? (the tubers hold artistic pleasure in design) Thanks."
Carolyn on Sunday 16 September 2018
"Carolyn, now would be a good time. They won't try to sprout until the soil reaches 50 degrees and after they've had a good chill. Most varieties handle zone 4 winters, zone 3 with mulching. Remove the mulch in the spring before the soil reaches 50 degrees. It might be a good idea to mulch these the first winter anyway, until they get acclimated. What does this variety look like? White or tan with fairly knobby structure or otherwise?"
Blaine on Sunday 16 September 2018
"No trace of "French Mammoth White" on the internet. Are you sure you've got that right? Which variety only has one thick strong stalk, like a giant sunflower, rather than the usual 5 stalks?"
Luke Jones on Saturday 19 January 2019
"Hi Luke. Had a look and it's listed as 'Mammoth French White' in the US. Also, Jerusalem artichokes are also known as 'sunchokes', so it may be worth searching under this too. Sometimes varieties cease to be available, so it may be that if you can't find it, it is no longer offered (the article is over six years old and unfortunately this can be a long time in the world of seed companies!)."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 21 January 2019
"I posted earlier so this is a recap and an update. I grow three varieties on a 1 1/2 in-town lot, not a lot of room, but a lot of fun! We're in west-central Pa., zone 5. One is a tan, knobby tuber under a 5'+ top, a real bear to get clean. Next is a red, slightly knobby tuber under a 6'+ top. Last is a tan, carrot sized and shaped tuber under a 12' top. There are patches in flower beds and along roads all over this area. Most people don't know what they have. Sunchokes grow up into Canada, into zone 3. They are hardy and grow better in cool summers. In zone 8 and warmer, they may not do so well, but give them a try anyway, they might acclimate. I pull the tops when they die, remove the roots that come up with. Waiting for the tops to die allows the strength to drop to the roots, making them much better than when harvested earlier. I then put the stalks through a small chipper and spread the chips over the patches. As I dig for more roots I turn the chips in and mix them in the soil. Our clay soil has become quite loose and the tubers get a bit bigger each year. I use a garden fork to dig with and no matter how careful I am, there are always more than enough bits I miss that come back in the spring. Last summer was very wet and we had a lot of them with soft spots or pithy insides. I need more slope for good drainage here, which I'm not going to be able to arrange. The Inulin that causes gas can be converted into fructose three ways; about a week of freezing, several hours of cooking, and fermenting. They can be fermented in the refrigerator pickle method or in crocks just like sauerkraut. We harvest ours in the fall as soon as the tops die, sometimes before frost, sometimes after, but not until the tops die. We eat them as regularly as possible and that does regulate the gut flora and the gas issue passes. Wait .. did I state that right? Yes, healthier guts equal little to no gas! Inulin taken regularly as Sunchokes or as a fiber supplement helps reduce the chances of colon cancer, something I have to watch out for from both my mother's and father's sides of the family. When I don't have 'chokes, I've begun to take an Inulin supplement daily. Storing! We've found our favorite way to store them is to can them. Plain like potatoes and used just like you would use canned potatoes. We pickle lots and make relishes. I prefer them to cukes! Canning keeps them good year around. I've also made wine from tuber and flower broth. The tuber wine is stout, a bit much for drinking, but it makes a great cooking wine! The flower broth wine I made straight, no citrus or other flavors, isn't bad at all. I like it straight or blended with other wines. It adds a nice earthy flavor. My wife doesn't care for it. Her loss, my gain!! Of course, it's not a fruity wine! Last fall I chipped some and dried them, almost a 5 gallon bucket full. I put them through a food processor and made flour. I got a quart +. Just enough to fiddle with. It's exactly like Buckwheat flour. You have to mix it with other flours or you risk supplying the sports shop with hockey pucks! It's great for thickening and when you use enough of it, it does change the flavor of stews and gravies slightly. Not bad, just something you aren't really expecting. Next fall I'm going to dry more and I'm thinking of boiling some, mashing them and drying it and seeing if I get anything like potato flakes. There are well over 400 recognized varieties of Sunchokes AKA Jerusalem Artichokes, Topinambours and called by the Algonquins Kaishúcpenauk, a compound of sun and tubers, scattered over the world by the colonials. [Kaishúcpenauk, from - (Thomas Harriot. A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (Kindle Location 273)]. The Mohawk name is Ohnennata’ó:we, original potato. To those of the Manglish persuasion they're called Fartichokes. How's them apples?? Diabetes has been brought up. Inulin (fiber) will not replace Insulin (hormone). However, Inulin passes through the stomach and if the gut bacteria are balanced, through the small gut. Inulin is broken down in the large gut by bacteria into fatty acid chains that are then absorbed as food. These fatty acid chains do not raise blood sugar, but can help the body regulate blood sugar in non-diabetics and type 2 diabetics. For full blown diabetes with no natural hormonal action, Inulin does very little. Sorry. Another 'however'! Inulin and the fatty acids are very low on the glycemic scale making Sunchokes much better for diabetics than potato starch! Even when the Inulin converts to fructose, the 'chokes are still better than potato starch! If you're diabetic or pre-diabetic, by all means, get your guts healthy and enjoy Sunchokes!"
Blaine on Friday 24 May 2019
"Hi Blaine, do you have a literature reference for the claim that inulin is broken down into fatty acids of types which help regulate blood sugar? The references I find indicate that bifido bacteria concentration increases by about 1 log unit, and that exhaled H2 goes up. For general sugars (fructose, in this case) (anaerobic) metabolism acetic acid would be the co-product generated, since no increase in CH4, indicative of conversion to longer-chain fatty acids, was seen?"
Stanton R de Riel on Friday 24 May 2019
"Hi Blaine. Thank you so much for your incredibly detailed post on how you grow and use artichokes. That's really very interesting and how fantastic that you have not one but three varieties you're growing - great stuff!"
Ben Vanheems on Friday 24 May 2019
"A friend wants a start of Jerusalem now in late May. If I dig some up and pot them, do you think they will grow?"
Anne Cabaniss on Wednesday 29 May 2019
"Hi Anne, There's probably no way you can prevent them from growing! You can even transfer them "bareroot" under refrigeration in a plastic bag for several days. They're quite robust."
Stanton R de Riel on Wednesday 29 May 2019
"Hi Luke and Ben, re/ a comment above about ?midsummer division? for sunchokes: indeed, don't divide what appears to be a clump, it's all from one root. But it's not a crown, either botanically (everything aboveground) nor horticulturally (e.g. asparagus, many wormlike roots, loosely connected if at all), just a single fibrous short taproot which can sprout multiple shoots. The thing you propagate is the eyes on the tubers, which form towards autumn; wait for the foliage to gray before digging."
Stanton R de Riel on Wednesday 7 August 2019
"Hi Stanton. Thanks very much for clearing that up and those helpful instructions, it's appreciated."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 8 August 2019
"Disaster News! Gale force winds, in the middle of August, have blown over the Jerusalem Artichokes, here in the UK! Should I suffer such a severe and instant destruction after all my hard work and waiting??? Is this a normal occurance for these plants? My giant sunflowers are down too. What should be done to prevent this happening? Can the crop be saved, or have I lost it all? Anyone experienced the same?"
Luke Jones on Friday 16 August 2019
"Luke, That wasn't August wind damage, that's just Nature practicing a response to Brexit. On a more serious note, if the stalks aren't totally snapped at the base, just stake them back up, they may totter along until autumn die-off. This happens all the time with some top-heavy flowers, such as cosmos. Or, the plants may elect to send up new shoots, which might "sap" their energy. Stake (cheap) or basket-enclose (costs a bomb) tall rigid stalks! (I even had a grafted apricot break at the union as a result of wind with inadequate trunk guy-wiring)."
Stanton R de Riel on Friday 16 August 2019
"I’ve grown artichokes from peelings. There are a few good tubers and lots of tuberoses underground stems. Can I replant the stems with my next peelings in the knowledge that they will contribute to next year’s yield?"
Mike on Thursday 5 December 2019
"Possibly Mike, if this has worked for you in the past. However, for a fail-safe result I'd always recommend planting a few saved tubers. But it sounds like the peelings you have used will have had enough starch behind them to sustain new growth."
Ben Vanheems on Friday 27 December 2019
"I'm from Australia and have been growing artichokes for 50 years. I carefully dig up all tubers each year and replant some in a different location. ( I still manage to get some shooting from the old site though) I once lost the variety but managed to get them back from a plant from my sister that was growing through a small crack in a concrete path. The variety I have are a purple colour and are delicious. I only once got them to grow about 10 feet tall. Most years they reach only about 4 feet. Could it be because we have long summers with temperatures often reaching the high 30 degrees celsius? Thank you for your articles I found them very interesting."
Neil Wilde on Thursday 19 March 2020
"Hi Neil. Yes, I think almost certainly it'll be the long, hot summers that may be stunting growth. My grandad used to grow Jerusalem artichokes in the same patch of ground, year after year, and they would reach at least six feet tall, often up to eight. No special treatment was given. I do think rotating your crop as you do is a wise move though - just to be on the safe side. Keep up the good work!"
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 19 March 2020
"Blaine, what was the flour like, and how did you dry it? After milling mine, it produced a very sticky, tar-like substance. It broke one mill, and started sticking the second one. Is it really possible to produce flour? (Another question: how is it they say that the sugar in JAs is not processed and is passed out of the body, but you say that it is converted to fructose?)"
Luke on Saturday 25 April 2020
"Luke, the inulin (a sugar polymer like a starch) in JAs is certainly metabolized by your gut bacteria, though not directly by you. Since the digestion of it is likely external to the bacteria, you might possibly absorb a small amount of the resultant fructose before the bacteria gobble it up. But the bacteria have the advantage in surface area and proximity, so they get the lion's share. It's possible that JAs after different storage times might process differently. The inulin is said to slowly convert partially to fructose on storage, but most likely through oligosaccharide bits which would be hygroscopic and sticky. Think: cornstarch, corn syrup, fructose powder progression. So I hazard a guess that freshly-harvested tubers would be most suitable for milling. Don't know how you'd dry it then without triggering breakdown -- you might use corn processing technology as a starting point?"
Stanton R de Riel on Sunday 26 April 2020
"Isn't all food metabolized but gut bacteria? If the "digestion of it is likely external to the bacteria", how is it digested? And if the bacteria eat fructose, I doubt they would excrete fructose, so what do you mean by "the inulin is metabolized by the gut bacteria"? Where does the fructose come from? How is it converted?"
Luke on Sunday 26 April 2020
"Luke: To clarify: No, your body digests most of the things in food fine without bacterial help. The bacteria in question secrete (put out) proteins (enzymes) which attack the inulin and break it down ultimately to fructose; the bacteria then absorb most of that fructose (as well as other things) to power their own growth and reproduction; they generate some gases as part of their life cycle; your intestinal wall absorbs some of the fructose (as well as other things) perhaps, which your body uses as an energy source. Your gut bacteria do much more than just this minor digestive task however; they generate an essential vitamin, regulate your immune system, contribute to controlling your mood, control central nervous system cellular health, and probably more besides. All this while living on the portions of your diet which you didn't or can't digest!"
Stanton R de Riel on Monday 27 April 2020
"If the bacteria that feed on inulin multiply during the winter months, while JAs are being eaten, will the colony die out by the end of the summer when JAs are not eaten? And, as a matter of interest, can cancer use fructose as a food source, or is it limited to only glucose? Thanks."
Luke on Monday 27 April 2020
"Out of curiosity I kept one tuber from a batch that a neighbour gave me, and popped it into a tub (instead of into a pan). Hard to believe how much top growth came from this. The comments on mice/voles explained a situation I had early on as the tuber was close enough to the surface to be uncovered and gnawed at. Have to water up to twice a day, but plant sturdy enough. Now very much looking forward to the frosts of winter, and if I do this again next year I will pinch out the tops to reduce height. Very informative site - so thanks to all."
Elaine on Friday 18 September 2020
"Hi Elaine. Thanks for sharing your experiences of this very vigorous plant! I hope you hope you get a crop to reward you for all your efforts. :-)"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 21 September 2020
"We have grown these for the first time this year and are really pleased with how they have grown and flowered. One of the plants on the end of the row broke during recent winds and we dug it up today. Plenty of tubers which are white, but now the stupid question, do they change colour if they are left until after a frost as I’ve only seen the light brown tubers you see in the supermarkets. I can’t remember which variety we brought at the beginning of the year."
Yvonne on Sunday 25 October 2020
"Hi Yvonne. That's not a stupid question at all. If the tubers are quite a good size, then I suspect the colour is more to do with the variety you have grown, rather than their level of maturity. I would get on and start enjoying them!"
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 29 October 2020
"This is the first year we have grown Jerusalem artichokes - Fuseau I think. We planted nine tubers but only two came up, the others had either disappeared (mice?) or had rotted. The remaining two grew 6 feet tall with lots of stems and leaves, no extra watering except when very young, no staking, no earthing up, very easy plants. Not many flowers, but we trimmed the tops/newer shoots around start of October as recommended to four feet, so the energy was put into the roots. The leaves died down in the last two weeks. We are leaving one plant in the ground for a couple of months until after frosts to see if it improves the flavour as several posts suggest. We harvested a whole bucketful of Jerusalem artichokes from the other plant which we dug up today. I am hoping we got up all the tubers - they seemed to come out in two blocks held together by our wet clay soil - so fingers crossed, as I don't want them coming back in the same place next year. (Scorzonera are a nightmare for this!!) Thanks for the tips on storage once harvested - we will store in a bucket of damp soil and see if it works.. Great site, thanks for all the advice and happy eating everyone."
Susan on Saturday 21 November 2020
"Thanks for the kind comments Susan. One bucket of artichokes from one plant is incredible going!"
Ben Vanheems on Friday 27 November 2020
"Luckily they taste delicious, and we are trying out all the recipes we can find! Having no idea of the yield size beforehand, we are very grateful that all 9 plants didn't survive. I can also say that with regular eating (maybe twice a week), any issue with flatulence disappears."
Susan on Monday 30 November 2020
"How interesting about the flatulence - I didn't realise that the body could be 'trained' like that!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 30 November 2020
"I stored chokes all winter wrapped in newspaper inside a plastic bag in the bottom of the refrigerator. They kept perfectly."
Julie on Tuesday 8 December 2020
"That's great to here Julie. Very low maintenance in storage clearly."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 8 December 2020
"My first year attempts are now 14 feet tall and covered with flowers from about 8 feet to the top. One plant was 'sampled' by a deer in the Spring and only regrew to about six feet. It alone made flowers lower than eye level. Next year I plan to cut off the tops of a few of them when they are two feet tall to see if I can simulate the effect. We are still a month from usual frost date so I have no idea what is underground. "
Doug Smith on Saturday 1 October 2022
"Let us know how your trial of cutting off the tops goes Doug. Hope you've got a good harvest from this year's plants."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 17 October 2022
"I'm growing for the first time. I planted in the spring. Up to date they have only grown to about two feet tall!! The weather is cooling so hopefully won't have to wait too long before I can investigate underground!"
Joan McWilliams on Friday 11 November 2022
"Hope you manage to unearth a tasty harvest Joan."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 15 November 2022
"I have read each comment on this site since two cents: I pickle everything including loads of Sunchokes. Either fermented or with vinegar....."No fart method"....: wash and then soak in 1/3 lemon, 2/3, H20......real easy winner! Also, 25litre small drilled holes in bottom of buckets with 2" gravel and any soil (other than soil infected with wireworm) to the top...water daily throughout summer and as stated harvest as required after hard frost. Save the world and gorilla plant anywhere the earth can be dug....but not in soil that has been growing grass or field earth....(again, wireworm). As good as Wildflower Bombs!!!"
Richard on Sunday 8 October 2023
"Super tips there Richard, thanks so much for sharing this. Love the no-fart method - will definitely have to try that one!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 9 October 2023
"I grow these delicious vegetables in abundance and enjoy eating them in a multitude of different ways. Sliced, sautéed in butter and garlic then topped with grated cheese melting over them is one of my favourites. Roasted around a joint of meat they end up with a delicious toffee like exudate. A few added to mashed potatoes works really well too. As for the flatulence issue I never notice it these days. I generally eat about ten portions of fruit and vegetables every day and any baking that requires flour I use wholemeal rye flour which has a very high fibre content. Once my digestive system was used to this it was pretty much unaffected by the fibre and the inulin found in artichoke tubers. The inulin does partially get hydrolysed into fructose in the body so it still raises blood sugar levels but not as much as most starchy foods. Eat them, enjoy them, but be wary of overdoing it if the south wind might be an embarrassment until such time as your gut bacteria get used to this banquet. They don’t call them “fartichokes” for nothing. "
Nigel Long on Friday 10 November 2023
"Really useful advice there Nigel, and I love your suggestions for cooking with them - they sound totally sublime!"
Ben Vanheems on Saturday 11 November 2023

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